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New forms arise, and diff'rent views engage,
But few there are whom hours like these await,
* The teeming mother, anxious for her race, Begs for each birth the fortune of a face; Yet Vane could tell what ills from beauty spring ; And Sedley curs'd the form that pleas'd a king. Ye nymphs of rosy lips and radiant eyes, Whom Pleasure keeps too busy to be wise ; Whom joys with soft varieties invite, By day the frolick, and the dance by night ; Who frown with vanity, who smile with art, And ask the latest fashion of the heart; What care, what rules, your heedless charms shall
save, Each nymph your rival, and each youth your slave! Against your fame with fondness hate combines, The rival batters, and the lover mines, With distant voice neglected Virtue calls, Less heard and less, the faint remonstrance falls; Tir'd with contempt, she quits the slipp’ry reign, And Pride and Prudence take her seat in vain. In crowd at once, where none the pass defend, The harmless freedom, and the private friend.
* Ver. 289--345. VOL. I.
The guardians yield, by force superior ply'd ;
gain; With these celestial Wisdom calms the mind, And makes the happiness she does not find.
* Vér. 346-365.
SPOKEN BY MR GARRICK
At the Opening of the Theatre Royal, DRURY LANE, 1747.
WHEN Learning's triumph o'er her barb'rous
foes First rear'd the stage, immortal Shakspeare rose; Each change of many-colour'd life he drew, Exhausted worlds, and then imagin'd new; Existence saw him spurn her bounded reign, And panting time toil'd after him in vain. His powerful strokes presiding Truth impress’d, And unresisted Passion storm'd the breast,
Then Jonson came, instructed from the school, To please in method, and invent by rule; His studious patience and laborious art, By regular approach assail'd the heart; Cold Approbation gave the ling'ring bays, For those, who durst not censure, scarce could praise, A mortal born, he met the genéral doom, But left, like Egypt's kings, a lasting tomb.
The wits of Charles found easier ways to fame, Nor wish'd for Jonson's art, or Shakspeare's flame, Themselves they studied, as they felt they writ; Intrigue was plot, obscenity was wit. Vice always found a sympathetic friend; They pleas’d their age, and did not aim to mend. Yet bards like these aspir'd to lasting praise, And proudly hop'd to pimp in future daye.
Their cause was gen’ral, their supports were strong, Their slaves were willing, and their reign was long: Till Shame regain's the post that Sense betray'd, And Virtue call’d Oblivion to her aid.
Then, crush'd by rules, and weaken'd as refin’d, For years the pow'r of Tragedy declin’d; From bard to bard the frigid caution crept, Till Declamation roard whilst Passion slept; Yet still did Virtue deign the stage to tread, Philosophy remain'd, though Nature fled. But forc'd, at length, her ancient reign to quit, She saw great Faustus lay the ghost of Wit; Exulting Folly haild the joyful day, And Pantomime and Song confirm’d her sway. But who the coming changes can presage, And mark the future periods of the stage? Perhaps, if skill could distant times explore, New Behns, new Durfeys, yet remain in store; Perhaps where Lear has rav’d, and Hamlet dy'd, On flying cars new sorcerers may ride : Perhaps (for who can guess th' effects of chance?) Here Hunt may box, or Mahomet * may
dance. Hard is his lot that, here by Fortune plac'd, Must watch the wild vicissitudes of taste ; With ev'ry meteor of caprice must play, And chace the new-blown bubbles of the day. Ah! let not Censure term our fate our choice, The stage but echoes back the publick voice ; The drama's laws, the drama's patrons give, For we that live to please, must please to live.
* Hunt, a famous boxer on the stage; Mahomet, a rope dancer, who had exhibited at Convenc-Garden Theatre the winter before, said to be a Turk.
Then prompt no more the follies you decry, As tyrants doom their tools of guilt to die ; "Tis
yours, this night, to bid the reign commence Of rescued Nature and reviving Sense ; To chase the charms of Sound, the pomp
of Show, For useful Mirth and salutary Woe; Bid scenic Virtue form the rising age, And Truth diffuse her radiance from the stage,